It’s that time of year again . . . we shopped for presents and wrapped them. We hugged family and friends and stayed up way too late for more than a few nights.
We ate our way through the holiday parties and partied our way through the New Year’s weekend.
Now, we’re in the nascency of a brand-new year, one that holds lots of promise. And with a little preparation, we can all be happier, healthier and more prosperous by this time next year.
“Oh-h-h, no you don’t, Toni,” you might be muttering under your breath. “Don’t start on me about New Year’s resolutions that we all know will be history by February 1st.”
I hear you. I used to feel the way you do. But a few years ago, I discovered why I never seemed to be able to follow through with my resolutions.
And I learned a few simple steps that I’ve adopted since, and that has made all the difference. Now, I look forward to new taking on new resolutions that will, once accomplished, make my life and those around me more successful and fulfilling. And to me, that’s what life is all about.
As the new year begins, many well-meaning people tell themselves that they’ll strive to “be healthier this year,” or “lose a few pounds,” or “make more money in the market.” Before long, those good intentions dissolve into life’s busyness.
In the same way your GPS can help you only if you tell it exactly where you want to go, your brain can direct you toward your goals only when you give it specific input.
For example, what if you gave your GPS instructions like, “Heck, I don’t know, well, let’s head out West.” You’ll end up getting vague answers and going nowhere.
In the same way, you have to tell your brain what you want to do, why you want to do it, and when you intend to reach that objective.
Nature programmed your brain so that when you feed it specific visions and goals as to what you want to achieve, the miraculous three pounds of “grey matter” atop your head will immediately start looking for ways to make those expectations happen.
My friend and colleague Diane Alexander, who is a neuroscience specialist, is a firm believer in setting goals. She says, “When you tell your brain precisely what you want to achieve, then write it down and refer to it often, you have a great chance of reaching that objective.”
Take Pen to Paper and Get SMART
Below is an effective technique that you can use to establish and achieve your goals for 2017.
But before we get into that discussion, please know this: In order to be successful, you need to take the time to write down your goals. Don’t just hold them loosely in your mind.
Research shows that 80% of those who write down their goals and refer to them on a consistent basis go on to achieve those goals. Those who hold their goals as vague generalities in their minds rarely ever reach them.
To further help you develop your list of resolutions and goals for 2017, here’s the popular SMART goal-setting technique.
S: Specific – State on paper exactly what you want to achieve. Example: “I intend to lose 10 lbs.” Or, “I intend to earn at least 10% capital gains this year in my IRA.”
M: Measurable: How much time, effort and capital will it take to achieve it? Example: “I will decrease calorie intake by 200 calories a day and walk two miles, three mornings a week.” Or, “I will spend 30 minutes a day reading financial journals and take online classes to upgrade my financial knowledge.”
A: Attainable: Your goal must be achievable within the framework of your lifestyle. Example: “To lower my calorie intake, I will no longer drink sodas and I will avoid eating sugar.
I have the desire and willpower to do this.” Or, “Ten-percent capital growth is relatively modest, and while I realize that profit-goals in the stock market are not a sure thing, this gives me a number to ‘shoot’ for.
Plus, I will write 30-minute time-slot in my planner so that I do not skip my reading and study time.”
R: Realistic: Is the goal worthwhile and realistic? Example: “My health will improve with the absence of sugar and with my new walking regime and I am dedicated to making these dietary changes.”
Or, “Investing in myself and my future is one of the most important goals I can fulfill. If I can increase my earning power in my IRA, I can pay off our home before I retire. That will assure my retirement years are more stress-free and enjoyable.”
T: Time-Bound: Create a time-line for the completion of your goal. Example. “I intend to lose ten pounds by February 15th.” Or, “I will strive to average a two to three-percent capital gain per quarter. With firm risk management (and if the market cooperates), I should be able to reach my 12% objective by the close of 2017.”
If you’d like to make this an exciting new year, take some time right now to invest in yourself: Grab a notebook, go to a quiet place and start developing your goals.
And here’s the fun part: At this time next year, as you look back at what you’ve accomplished in 2017, you will feel the incredible sense of satisfaction of knowing that instead of being “history by February first,” you’ve made valuable new changes in your life.
Until next time,
keep green on your screen!
Toni Turner is the President of TrendStar Group, LLC, is an accomplished technical analyst as well as a popular educator and sought-after speaker in the financial arena.
She is also the author of best-selling books: A Beginner’s Guide to Short-Term Trading, Short-Term Trading in the New Stock Market and Invest to Win: Earn and Keep Profits Bull and Bear Markets With the GainsMaster Approach, co-authored with Gordon Scott, CMT.